With the likes of Rebel Galaxy, Starpoint Gemini 2 and of course, Elite: Dangerous, Xbox One owners are already well spoiled when it comes to high-quality, enjoyable space simulators. Nevertheless, I’m still delighted to report that the latest addition to the fold, Everspace, is more than capable of adding to the mix. Available now via the Microsoft Game Preview program, Everspace brings unique roguelike progression systems to the genre, and has a focus on arcade style gameplay and control, rather than the heavy handed simulation favoured by most.
The first thing that struck me about Everspace is just how good it looks. The first few areas are decent if unremarkable, but once things really get going, it’s exceptional. The colourful nebulae and varied planets that make up the backdrop for each level are standouts, but what is even more impressive is the volume of floating debris (including asteroids, space stations and derelict ships to name a small selection.) I’m not certain, but I suspect that Everspace can put out such a great volume and density of galactic furniture because it is structured around several small levels within a sector, each of which is connected by a jump gate.
This gives each level a clear objective which, like most roguelike games is to find the exit. Unlike traditional dungeon crawling roguelike games, though, in Everspace, you’ll always know where the exit is. Instead of crawling from one darkened room to another, the limitation to a quick exit here is based on having enough fuel to make the next jump, so on most occasions, you’ll need to explore. You’ll want to explore anyway because the myriad of floating objects (both inanimate and otherwise) have much to offer. Destroy an entire wing of enemies for example, and you’ll usually be rewarded with a ship component that you can either equip or break down into pieces.
This takes us onto crafting. Everspace currently has a crafting system that is a little perfunctory, but entirely functional and well featured in terms of components available and potential upgrade options. It also enables an element of specialisation; short-lived as it may be should a given playthrough not last beyond a few levels. This being a roguelike, when you die, that’s it – game over. However, Everspace does feature the welcome inclusion of persistent progression, with more successful runs yielding one or more points that can be ploughed into weapons, shields and whatever else takes your fancy.
Among the procedurally generated levels that I’ve played through so far in Everspace, there is a ton of fun to be had, but there are also a few hiccoughs, this being an early version of the game and all. There are relatively few technical issues that I’ve experienced, but the biggest one I’ve come across is jump gates that I can’t pass through, which is sadly quite game breaking. The main issue for me, is more pedestrian (and pretty common to all roguelike games) and it relates to difficulty. Even early on, there are some insane spikes in the difficulty level that simply can’t be avoided or beaten – at least not based on my level of skill!
Everspace already offers a lot of features, but the developer promises an increase in the number of ships (currently just one, rising to three,) a non-linear story, a hardcore mode and a few other enhancements. There are a couple of other things I’d like to see them sort out such as the current tutorial text being hard to read and the speed of basic ship movement being slow. But overall, I am quite impressed with Everspace and looking forward to the full release of this excellent and innovative shooter. For anyone on the fence, I would suggest that you think before buying. Despite its obvious quality, Everspace currently stands at $29.99, which is incredibly steep for a Game Preview Game, no matter how good it may be.